Planet Iron Blogger SF

May 10, 2021

Doctor Popular

Astro Style Yo-Yoing

I just uploaded a new episode of PopCast about a style of yo-yoing called Astro. Astro is a sub-style of counterweight play that uses two weights instead of one.

To go along with this video, I’ve also released a few Astro weight designs that you can download and print out on a 3D printer. These files are available on my Github with a very friendly license, you can remix them, share them, and even sell them if you like. If you end up manufacturing these, send me a set and tell me about your shop so I can help spread the word.

The post Astro Style Yo-Yoing appeared first on Doc Pop's Weblog.

by doc at May 10, 2021 04:14 PM

Claire Kao

the rotten egg trope

eggs as insult

In Mandarin, there are a whole host of insults based around the word egg. This was very funny to my brothers and me growing up as we had only the most basic awareness of Chinese:
  • húndàn (混蛋, mixed egg), wándàn (完蛋, finished egg), wángbādàn (王八蛋, this one is a very complicated reference to turtles that also somehow gets you to unvirtuous women and this insult is actually the progenitor of all of the other egg insults), bèndàn (笨蛋, stupid egg), gǔndàn (滾蛋, rolling egg), huàidàn (壞蛋, evil egg) 
  • only enumerating here the egg insults I've personally heard or am aware of, there are actually many more

which led to many jokes during our pillow-fort summer vacation days calling each other rolling eggs, stupid eggs, even evil English, much to the exasperation of my exhausted mother, happy mother's day mama btw 🍳(★‿★)

anyhow this might be why I have a soft spot and a sensitivity to what I believe is a *previously undescribed trope* that I am naming THE ROTTEN EGG TROPE . A quick Google search of all the times I've seen this line suggests that no one else has had the galaxy brain to point this one out yet. (Which I find hard to believe, so pleeeeeeeeease tell me this exists and you know it by some other name)

so what is the rotten egg trope ??

You know that thing kids say to goad another kid into a race: "last one there is a rotten egg!" 
(not that important but: do kids actually say this, has any child actually ever said this to another IRL, is this just in movies/tv, or if they are saying it is it just in imitation of a line from the telly hm 🤔) 

According to, this phrase has something to do with the good egg/bad egg idea and entered the lexicon in the '50s.

01 I Love Lucy.png
an early use of the phrase?

which brings me to the tropey part of all this. In a fair number of tv/movies, particularly ones that involve fantasy or sci-fi, we meet a new character in a new world, a world that looks very different from ours, but one that the screenwriters would like us to know is actually not so different from the one we live in.
Our new friend, an alien youngster, might meet up with another alien youngster when they suddenly have to rush off somewhere. One of them lets out a gleeful dare: "last one to the gleeblegork is a bllrrglshim!!". BAM! We, the viewers, can now suddenly see ourselves in this world: we get the rules, we play how they play, we are them, etc. And, in some cases, we are also now exposed to some of their unfamiliar and oh-so-quirky language!

From Netflix's 2019 Dark Crystal revival, here's a usage of this trope that I can recall most vividly/recently:
02 The Dark Crystal Age of Resistance.png
finders' cred to mrcoles who was able to track down this moment in under 2 minutes

And when I looked for variations of the line on IMDb, here are other funny ones:

So, , , what do u think, , ,should I try to have this one acknowledged on ?? And also will you tell me if/when you come across this line 🎀 ?? don't be a rolling egg now 😋

by Claire ( at May 10, 2021 04:49 AM


Getting a vaccine under a giant blue whale

Getting a vaccine under a giant blue whale

May 10, 2021 04:19 AM

May 09, 2021

travis vachon

May 07, 2021

I Like Turtles

New toy


May 07, 2021 04:00 AM

May 03, 2021


Reselect: the redux memoizer we need, but not the redux memoizer we deserve

Reselect: the redux memoizer we need, but not the redux memoizer we deserve

May 03, 2021 05:55 PM

Claire Kao

kwee's week in photos

Solaris / 2001
Solaris / Upstream Color via Kneipp's Lavender Bath Oil
a conversation between Gloria Steinem and Vanessa Springora, the latter of whom wrote the completely devastating and spell-binding book Consent 
小白菜 (baby bok choy) my absolute favorite vegetable
finally the streets of new york city are rightfully tarred and feathered
this video is from September 2019. Jasper, an 80-lb gentle giant, was one of my favorite neighbor-dogs and he used to sit on me and wag his tail in my face. He died from cancer this week, and we happened to be walking out as he left the apartment for the last time. He was clearly in pain and was moving very slowly, but was so happy to see us. I'm heartbroken that he's gone.
I opened my backpack for the first time since March of 2020 this week and emptied its contents. A time capsule: lesson plan from REAP, a WeWork umbrella, chapstick, napkins, various sweets, business school nameplate and nametag, a red pen, a keycard from a class retreat, a penny, a binder clip.
a trip to posteritati

P.S. a weird moment to be writing this on a Basecamp product. my week was absolutely consumed by the events at Basecamp (hint: I'm enraged). But I have some time to consider if I continue paying for Hey beyond my first year's sub so I stay here...for now...

by Claire ( at May 03, 2021 06:01 AM

Diegetic Games

Jewish Inspirations for Worldbuilding and Adventuring

Last year I got to contribute to a great anthology of Jewish tabletop games called Doikayt – I highly recommend you check it out!

My submission was a chapter called “Jewish Inspirations for Worldbuilding and Adventuring” which was a collection adventure hooks, scenarios, minigames, and historical backgrounds that you can weave into your sessions or incorporate into a new game that you design.

Subsections include:

  • European Jews in the Middle Ages
  • Mythology and Folklore: Spirits, Golem, Monsters, and Divination
  • Worldbuilding and Diaspora

You can check out the chapter on its own via this standalone PDF – hope you enjoy it!

May 03, 2021 01:00 AM

May 02, 2021

Vivek Sri

How to pronounce my name

The unfamiliar echo

Before my first day of school my mother asked me if I wanted to use a different, more Anglicized name. My cousin, Rajat, had started school a few years before me and started Kindergarten as “Robin.” My mom translated Sandhya into “Sandy” at the office.

It’s common for immigrants and their families to choose alternative Western names. I’m not sure how, but South and East Asian families have a knack for finding dust-covered beauties like Robin, Jasper, Bernice, or Vernon that haven’t been in use since 1965. Do they give you a book when you enter the country or something?

My mom suggested “Victor.” It sounded like an old man’s name. I didn’t like it, but it was the only one she offered. So I marched into Kindergarten armed with विवेक and a He-Man lunchbox.

Even though I introduced myself as विवेक, what I heard back was VEE•VECK or VEE•VACK. I never corrected anyone and I didn’t know I was supposed to.

By middle and high school my name evolved into a jaunty iamb: vi•VECK. I would still introduce myself the same way, but learned to expect an unfamiliar echo every time I did.

How I got my name

My mother wanted two kids: a boy and a girl, in that order, with the first initials V and N respectively. She got what she wanted.

The name my mom chose for me was विवेक (or Vivek in English). It means intelligence or wisdom—a remarkably prescient choice, if I do say so myself. The most famous person with this name is the Swami Vivekananda who introduced Hinduism to Europe and the United States. Other noteworthy folks with this name:

It’s a common enough name, but I wouldn’t say it’s popular. It’s no Amit or Sameer. Not as exalted as Ram, Krishna, or Shiva. I could probably list a dozen people named Anil in my own family, but I’ve only ever met a few people named विवेक. According to, विवेक has a naming frequency of 1 in 2,831 births, on par with a name like “Vernon.”

Hey Vern!Hey Vern!

Let me help you with that

On my first week of university, I meet a nice guy named Jeff who calls me V, which I dig. By this time, I’m no longer introducing myself as विवेक. There are too many people to meet, they’re usually drunk, and it’s not worth the hassle. I go by whatever people call me. On my student exchange in Rotterdam, I hear my name in 50 different accents. The Spanish bi•BAKE is my favorite.

When I join the work force, I create a mnemonic to make it easier for the people I meet. The English word “mistake” has similar vowel sounds (though not exactly the same) to the ones in my name. I introduce myself as “विवेक like mistake.” Like an advertising slogan.

Despite my efforts, विवेक morphs into VEE•VAKE. A lot of my first job is on the phone, so I’m introducing myself with “This is विवेक calling.” Because of something called rebracketing, the people on the other end of the phone start to hear, “This is Vivé calling.” vi•VAY is not my favorite.

A name is a brand

You learn a lot when you repeat something thousands of times. While “विवेक like mistake” is phonetically useful, it’s got a branding problem. Sure, it gets a laugh because of the unexpectedness of “mistake,” but the touch of self-deprecation is unintended. Every now and then my introduction is received with a piteous “aww.”

I don’t want to lead with “mistake.” It’s replacement is well-focus-grouped: “VIV•ick like civic.” This sparks recognition every time. The Honda Civic is one of North America’s best selling automobiles; even if this sounds nothing like my name, the brand association is top-drawer. Seeing “Vivic” on the occasional Starbucks cup is a small price to pay for ease-of-use.

As you can tell, I’ve thought a lot about my name, the perceptions and attitudes it generates in other people, and what it takes to get folks to say it a certain way.

The challenges of a “non-standard” name

When you have a name that’s hard to pronounce, introducing yourself isn’t just an exchange of information. It’s a sales pitch and negotiation. In a matter of moments you must pluck people out of their confusion, make a joke if you can, reassure them that ‘everything is fine,’ ‘yes, you can say it’ if you try, and ‘don’t worry I’m not offended’ if you get it wrong. If you don’t do this, your name (and by extension, you) becomes a thing that makes people feel uncomfortable.

If your name is the front door to your psyche, mine feels like a Norman Door that stops folks in their tracks. This stumble subconsciously sets the tone for every single interaction I’ve had with any stranger for the past four decades. I’ve never had a teacher, employer, or romantic partner ever pronounce my name correctly.

Research suggests having your name repeatedly mispronounced can cause challenges for students. “Ethnic-sounding” names can also affect your ability to find a job or advance in your career.

It can mess with your lunch too. While I was waiting for an order at a busy sandwich shop in Oakland, I saw an employee walk over to an order slip and silently inspect it, before looking around sheepishly and moving on to the next one. I immediately knew what happened. They were too nervous to shout my name out, so skipped my order. I walked to the counter to get the sandwich, and I could feel their embarrassment as they handed it to me. I was embarrassed too. Anyone with a challenging name has some version of this story.

My name as conversation starter

Not everybody is intimidated by a hard-to-pronounce name. Some are elated by them. Every 17 introductions or so, a stranger will tell me how much they love my name:

  • Wow, I really like that
  • That’s a beautiful name
  • Whoa, that name is badass

I get what these folks are trying to do. They want to connect with another human by talking about something they haven’t seen before. They’re turning my name into a friendly conversation starter.

For me, it’s a conversation killer. I don’t want to talk about my name. I’ve clunked it around for decades like a suitcase with broken wheels. I’ve used it 60,000 times; it’s not new, fun, or interesting to me, even if it were easy to say. It’s hard to accept the compliment, especially since it often devolves into full on Othering:

Vivek? That’s a lovely name. I love that. Where is that from? Oh, nice. I love Indian weddings, they’re so colorful. I want to go back to India. Do you get to go back a lot?

In those moments, I wonder what would happen if I tried complimenting a Western name the same way:

“Whoa, Beth… that’s so cool. Beeeeth. That’s really interesting.”

To me, it feels meaningless to accept a compliment about a label that you (typically) didn’t choose which has nothing to do with who you are. Ironically, the one way a name can affect your identity is if that name is hard to say or pronounce (See X Æ A-Xii Musk). In that case, a compliment can feel like drawing attention to the thing that makes someone feel marginalized. What’s interesting and “exotic” to one person might represent a life-long burden for the other.

I know the complimenters mean well. I always say thank you. But I can’t help that at this point in my life, “That’s a cool name” reaches my ears as “You’re different.”

What does your family call you?

Like most Indian parents, my parents use house names with their kids. Indian house names don’t make sense. Salman on the streets becomes “Chhotu” with family. Anushakshi goes by “Kushi” at home. Piyush becomes “Bobby.” My sister calls me “Brobot” and she’s the only one that gets to do that.

You can call me V

For nearly 40 years, I’ve worked to find ways to make my name more palatable for other people. What I’ve got in return is a long list of phonemes that don’t sound right. A few years ago, I decided that I want to like what I hear when people refer to me.

I started a new job and introduced myself in the Honda Civic way, but I had also written down “V” on some form, somewhere. When I talked to people I was self-effacing: “You can call me whatever.” But during my first week a coworker, Melissa, asked me earnestly: “What do you want to be called?” And she waited for my answer. I have never forgotten that. So many folks just want to quickly grab your handle so they can begin the beguine. She wanted to know who I was. I told her, “You can call me V.”

The next day I ordered a coffee on campus and introduced myself as such. When the barista handed me my cup, she had drawn a small cartoon hand holding up peace fingers, surrounded by a heart. I’ve gone by V ever since.

Do I have to?

Desis are exempt from this, of course. I may introduce myself as V, but at any company I’ve worked at, brown people tend to code switch when pronouncing each other’s names.

Everyone else: You can call me V. If your online form has a minimum character count for first name greater than 1 (and shame on you for this) use “Vee.” I’ve also seen coworkers use “Vi” and this intrigues me! (Topic for another essay.) If V still hurts your brain, pretend it’s 1965 when two letter names were all the rage: PJ, CJ, AJ, AC, etc. My name is simply one letter shorter than that. (Just don’t call me “Vern.”)

Not everyone is convinced. At a food truck here in Portland, Oregon, a server is downright incredulous about my introduction. She repeats it skeptically: “V? Like just V?” I hold up two fingers to confirm and smile hard through my mask. Swiping my credit card provides her with the other English letters of my name and a clear sense of relief, “Oh, VIV•eck! Now that’s not so hard!”

If you can, please donate to help the situation in India.

by How to pronounce my name at May 02, 2021 07:00 AM

travis vachon

May 01, 2021

I before E except Gleitzman

Beyond Electric Sheep

I’ve been digging into Phillip K. Dick’s back catalog and finding a few wacked-out gems. Much of his work focuses on and draws inspiration from his periods of on-again off-again drug use. They’re difficult and flawed reads at times, but the concepts are just as fresh as they were almost a half century ago.

A few titles I’ve enjoyed are:

  • The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch - a psychedelic odyssey of hallucinations-within-hallucinations
  • Ubik - A layered and labyrinthine space opera
  • A Scanner Darkly - I love me some Keanu but the book is better

Of course, if you haven’t read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep that’s not to be missed.

May 01, 2021 04:39 PM

April 30, 2021


😑⁠ .⁠ .⁠ #pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade...

#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handbuilding #ceramicglaze #glazechemistry #glazes #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #wheelthrown — view on Instagram

April 30, 2021 05:23 PM

I Like Turtles

The blue water tower


April 30, 2021 04:00 AM

April 29, 2021


😡⁠ .⁠ .⁠ #pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade...

#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handbuilding #ceramicglaze #glazechemistry #glazes #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #wheelthrown — view on Instagram

April 29, 2021 05:20 PM

April 28, 2021


😀⁠ .⁠ .⁠ #pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade...

#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handbuilding #ceramicglaze #glazechemistry #glazes #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #wheelthrown — view on Instagram

April 28, 2021 04:21 PM

April 26, 2021


😭⁠ .⁠ .⁠ #pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade...

#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handbuilding #ceramicglaze #glazechemistry #glazes #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #wheelthrown — view on Instagram

April 26, 2021 04:20 PM

Doctor Popular

Pro-Vaccine Apparel

Lately I’ve noticed a few of my followers on Instagram expressing a hesitancy to get vaccinated. I believe the fastest way for this pandemic to end is for as many folks as possible to get vaccinated, so I designed a few pro-vaccine shirts that people can wear to proudly show they have done their part to end the vaccine.

Mostly though, I designed these shirts as something I can wear while filming my yo-yo videos. My hope is that I can undo some of the false information that is being spread and help normalize getting your shot. My proceeds for each sale are being donated to UNICEF.

So Fresh and Vaccined Vaccinated AF So Fresh & Vaccined

The post Pro-Vaccine Apparel appeared first on Doc Pop's Weblog.

by doc at April 26, 2021 04:53 AM

Certainly Strange

Vaccination Station

I forgot to mention it here earlier, but I got vaccinated at SF General for their drop-ins, and it all went very smoothly!

by Steen at April 26, 2021 04:48 AM

Claire Kao

kwee's week in photos

livin' in a box
summer interlude
they are beauty, they are grace, they are elegance and taste
happy birthday brudda

Meet Dante, A Rhodesian Ridgeback that once won Best in Show 
my beautiful beautiful friend Reid released the most delightful music video for his song, Pillow Song, on Friday


by Claire ( at April 26, 2021 03:07 AM

April 25, 2021

I before E except Gleitzman

Cuyama Lamb Fire Department

When the Chumash people were the most populous in Santa Barbara, large flocks of wild ungulates roamed the land munching on grasses, wild radishes, and various flora. By reducing the fuel load, goats and sheep helped keep wildfires in check by consuming material before the seasonal fires could.

Today Cuyama Lamb provides grazing services to the area, bringing a large flock to trim the grasses and trees, and give local residents a pop-up petting zoo. They’re pretty much the opposite of Smokey the Bear, and probably much more effective in actually preventing large scale fires.

In addition to fire reduction, they also provide local wool and food. Many thanks to our four-legged friends, and this two-legged Bo Peep.

April 25, 2021 04:55 PM


😊⁠ .⁠ .⁠ #pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade...

#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handbuilding #ceramicglaze #glazechemistry #glazes #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #wheelthrown — view on Instagram

April 25, 2021 04:20 PM

travis vachon

April 24, 2021


😛⁠ .⁠ .⁠ #pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade...

#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handbuilding #ceramicglaze #glazechemistry #glazes #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #wheelthrown — view on Instagram

April 24, 2021 04:20 PM

Diegetic Games

Premise SRD and Artifact variant

Premise now has a guide for creating and sharing custom variants, you can check it out on Itch at Premise: Template Creation Guide. The guide includes advice for making your variants as well as blank templates in a few different formats. There’s also a Google Slides version of the blank template, friendly for online play.

As part of creating the guide, I also created a new version, Premise: Artifact. In it, players will simultaneously create magical artifacts with powers, drawbacks, and backstories. Check it out!

If you end up creating new games, with these templates, I’d love to hear about it! Reach out and I’ll add it to the online collection of Premise games.

April 24, 2021 04:00 PM

April 23, 2021


😳⁠ .⁠ .⁠ #pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade...

#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handbuilding #ceramicglaze #glazechemistry #glazes #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #wheelthrown — view on Instagram

April 23, 2021 04:20 PM

I Like Turtles

Camping with Leonard


April 23, 2021 04:00 AM

April 22, 2021


April 21, 2021


I recently sent a big batch of happy plates to @straymachine in...

I recently sent a big batch of happy plates to @straymachine in LA. I haven’t made happy plates in some time, it was fun to revisit the concept!⁠

#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handbuilt #ceramicglaze #glazechemistry #glazes #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #wheelthrown — view on Instagram

April 21, 2021 06:20 PM

Raymond Cheng

Strong/Weak Reasons to do a PhD in Computer Science

These are the things I wish I had known before deciding to go to grad school. Obviously take these with a grain of salt, as they just represent one man’s opinion.

Strong reasons to do a PhD

I define a strong reason as sufficient reason on its own to do the PhD. You only need one of these:

1. 🔥 You want to work on something you can only do in academia

When I started my PhD, interesting job opportunities in crypto companies were much more limited than they are now. Today, there are countless companies working on end-to-end encryption, homomorphic encryption, secure hardware, and many other breakthrough technologies. My friend said something similar about the robotics industry before Willow Garage and Google X’s autonomous vehicle program.

At that time, the best place to work on these emerging technologies was in academia, where the ground-work was still being laid out. For these specific fields, I’m not sure if that’s the case anymore, but I am sure there are other fields for which this property still holds true. If you have a passion for such a field, I say go for it!

2. 🔥 You love the research process

The research process is a very particular game of writing papers, and your career will depend on your ability to publish to premier venues. Every publication venue has their own (sometimes opaque) criteria that they use to judge whether a paper is sufficiently novel to include in their journal or proceedings. If you haven’t already, read lots and lots of papers from your favorite venue. There are conferences for every field of computer science. Do you find these papers absolutely enthralling and captivating? If not, you should probably stop here.

If yes, find a professor working in that space and volunteer your time. Don’t limit yourself to just coding (that is only a tiny part of the research process). Find a way to get involved in the writing and editing process. Be there to wipe up the tears when the paper gets rejected. Stick around for the many paper iterations to resubmit to the next conference. Try writing a novel paper yourself. Does it fill you with joy when some experts half-way around the world consider your work good enough? If so — a PhD might be for you. If this process fills you with loathing, you might want to reconsider spending the next 5+ years of your life on it.

Note: I did not talk about novelty or freedom. There are countless ways to build novel software that doesn’t exist yet (e.g. in industry or open source communities), or get more freedom to pursue new ideas (e.g in startups). The research process is a very particular process.

3. 🔥 You want a shot at eventually becoming a professor

This is an obvious one, in the sense that for most schools, a PhD is a hard requirement. If you love to teach and want to do it at the college level, this is the way to do it. However, faculty positions are an incredibly scarce resource. Just think about how many faculty exist in your department and how often that changes (compared to the students). It is significantly harder to land a faculty position. If you do manage to land one of these positions, be prepared to potentially relocated to a location you never expected, or at a lower tiered school than you hoped for.

Weak reasons to do a PhD

I don’t mean that they’re bad reasons per se. Rather, each individual reason on their own is generally not enough to keep you going through the difficult journey.

1. ❄️ You want to earn more money

There is a high opportunity cost to doing a PhD. For top-performers who plan to go into industry, you can often expect to make less after a PhD, than if you had gone straight into industry after undergrad. In other words, it will likely take you much less time with the same amount of work ethic to get the promotions you would need to be at the level you’d be interviewing for at the end of your PhD. For example if you decide to go to Google, you’d probably start at L3 after undergrad vs L5 after your PhD. Plus, the skills you learn during your PhD are often not the ones that will make you more valuable as an engineer in company. Of course, there might be some exceptions to this based on your expertise level and field of expertise.

2. ❄️ You need time to figure out what you want to do with your life

PhDs require a lot of time and you will be doing no less work than at an engineering job (often times more). Yes, you will be exposed to new fields through classes, but I’d recommend folks to take more classes in their undergrad or masters programs. When you become a PhD student, you’ll likely be expected to start working on papers on day 1. There is a chance you may find out that you want to do a PhD during the PhD, but you can also figure this out elsewhere (like I did during my first job after undergrad).

3. ❄️ You want those 3 letters after your name

No one is going to care that you have a PhD. It is not going to be a determining factor in any job interview, except for professors (see above). Especially in computer science and engineering, your skills, ideas, and reputation will be your best assets. You can gain those in or out of a PhD.

4. ❄️ Someone (e.g. parents/teacher) told you to do it

Your parents aren’t going to write your papers for you. Your professor or your peers aren’t going to write your papers either. The open secret is that the first author of most multi-authored papers wrote 95% of the paper and a PhD takes a lot of effort and focus. The motivation needs to be intrinsic. Doing this for someone else will probably not motivate you enough to go through the grind when things get tough.

5. ❄️ You’re a masochist

When someone tells you how hard something is and how most people fail, does that draw you to the challenge? My group used to joke that the best PhD students are the ones that after being told they shouldn’t do one, continue to do it anyway. Marc Andreesen has said the same thing about startup founders. They say these things to elicit that feeling of, “do you think you’re good enough for this?” Don’t fall for that trap! It is in their best interest that more students/founders try and fail by casting a false dichotomy of success vs failure. For any individual person, not going to grad school may be way better for your career and falling for this narrative is a terrible reason to commit years of your life.

6. ❄️ You want to learn new technical topics

In your PhD, you will spend a lot of your time reading papers. You’ll read some in group settings with other colleagues interested in the same subjects, but you’ll also read a lot on your own. I love that PhDs give you the time to read and engage in deep discussions about a topic with other like-minded folks. The PhD did teach me how to pick a brand new subject, learn enough to become an expert at it, and discover new insights.

However, I list it as a weak reason in itself because I think of this as a life-long mindset that can and should be developed regardless of where you are. As a thought experiment, if I wanted to do a career change and start working in computational biology, would I do another PhD? Of course not! I would read papers, find good mentors and colleagues in the field, and start doing work in the space.

If you ask me if I regret going to grad school, I’ll always answer no and share reasons why the experience was valuable to me. Without the ability to A/B test my life, I also won’t be able to definitively tell you that my life could have been better or worse. However as a recovering masochist that went to graduate school because I thought it was about “academic freedom”, I really underestimated just how difficult the journey would be, its impact on my mental health, and the wide prevalence of depression (1, 2, 3, 4). I hope these tips might help you recognize what your motivations are so you can make better decisions for yourself.

If you agree or disagree with any of these, please leave your comments below! I’d love to hear how others would think about this decision. Join the conversation on:

Thanks to Ian Vo, Calvin Ardi, Dan Butler, Brandon Holt, Dimitrios Gklezakos, Rahul Banerjee for their feedback!

April 21, 2021 01:47 PM

April 19, 2021

Certainly Strange


Claire Kao


it was a dark, heavy, relentless week. 

Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, the continuing trauma of George Floyd's murder at the Derek Chauvin trial. The villainization of victims, the villainization of justified outrage. brutality at the protests protesting police brutality, brutality all the way down. 
Jim Pagels. An urbanist and bike safety advocate who was hit by a car while biking to a date. A close friend to several in my life, a person I observed and experienced as kind, gentle, thoughtful, and earnest.

The Sikh hate-crime aspect of the Fedex shooting (in addition to the horrifying fact that FedEx requires employees to lock up their phones). A new mass shooting reported each day, happening too quickly to track. I visited this page around 11:30pm, a new line on the spreadsheet appeared at 11:40pm.

Every deeply ugly, interconnected ill in our society seems to come dancing across the breaking news alerts every couple of minutes. This country is homicidal.

I am exhausted, I am scared, I'm scared for loved ones and people in general all around the country. Seeking and cherishing gentleness. Fighting.

by Claire ( at April 19, 2021 04:42 AM

I before E except Gleitzman

Parafoil Kite Had never flown one until this week, but it’s super fun! This is a Synapse 140...

Parafoil Kite

Had never flown one until this week, but it’s super fun! This is a Synapse 140 from Prism.

April 19, 2021 03:11 AM

Diegetic Games

Decks + Prompts (PDF Version)

Last week I shared some thoughts on using decks of prompts in storytelling games. I ended up creating a polished version of it in PDF form. You can grab it at:

I submitted it as part of the broader Itch Tech Jam which is very worth checking out!

April 19, 2021 03:00 AM

April 18, 2021

travis vachon

April 16, 2021


I am always interested to see how different creators work behind...

I am always interested to see how different creators work behind the scenes. If anyone is curious, here’s my photo set up: sheets of paper and a scrapbooking paper book to create my colored environments. For larger scenes I use a drape of fabric instead. ⁠
#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handdbuilt #ceramicglaze #meetthemaker #behindthescene #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #wheelthrown — view on Instagram

April 16, 2021 04:20 PM

April 15, 2021


I’m still playing with handle ideas. I like the slab tab...

I’m still playing with handle ideas. I like the slab tab on this design.⁠
#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handdbuilt #ceramicglaze #glazechemistry #glazes #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #wheelthrown — view on Instagram

April 15, 2021 04:20 PM

April 14, 2021


This cute little family, including a kiddie-sized wiggle mug...

This cute little family, including a kiddie-sized wiggle mug just made it to Berlin for @nadinenitzsche. Miss you sweetie, I wish I could deliver them myself! ❤️⁠
#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handdbuilt #ceramicglaze #glazechemistry #glazes #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #wheelthrown — view on Instagram

April 14, 2021 05:20 PM

April 13, 2021


Stacking cups.⁠ .⁠ .⁠ #pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade...

Stacking cups.⁠
#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handdbuilt #ceramicglaze #glazechemistry #glazes #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #wheelthrown — view on Instagram

April 13, 2021 04:20 PM

Claire Kao

༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ missing and loving animals

yesterday, I had the completely silly experience of meeting a pack of 5 alpacas

alpaca approach compressed.gif

I learned alpacas are an entirely domesticated breed, and are distant relatives of the camel 🐫. They like being around people, but don't particularly like being petted/touched ⛔👉🏻👈🏻⛔

a group of alpacas is actually called a herd, but I think a pack o' alpacas sounds funnier

It was completely joyful and emotionally restorative, and highlighted how intensely without animals I have been during the pandemic. Normally, I do okay on a steady diet of dog-sitting and finding my way to dogs anywhere and everywhere (see: dream facial), but obviously there's been none of that the past year: dawgs-min.png
(photos pre-March 2020 😭)

So when a local veterinarian heard I was wild about all things furry and funny, he offered to have me meet his own personal pack of furry funny ones.

I love that domesticated animals pretty much follow the rule of loving as long as loving is to be had (and food). At the end of the day, all we're really here to do is feel safe and secure in our bodies. We do this by eating some food, getting rest, pursuing good feelings, loving, and doing some loving. So being around animals feels emotionally regulating because these needs and motivations are completely transparent, which is not always the case with good ole human beans and their beliefs in power and property, ego and entitlement, complicated traumas, long memories, and convoluted paths to self-actualization

"why don't u have a dog already". BELIEVE ME I'm trying! But I'm waiting for the right doggie and the right time, so any and all adoption tips please let me know. Because I'm never happier than when:
(as captured and posted to Dogspotting by a ♪ stranger ♪)

by Claire ( at April 13, 2021 04:31 AM